Carry on Tuesday – Life isn’t about what happens to you, it’s about how you handle what happens.

Cardiac ICU

Cardiac ICU (Photo credit: Sam Blackman)

It was Father’s Day, our baby was nine months old and my husband and I had driven from Massachusetts to my parents’ condo in upstate New York. It was our first Father’s Day with our son and after two and a half years of infertility treatment, nothing made us happier than spending time with our boy. I felt blessed that I had finally gotten pregnant and every night I thanked God for this beautiful boy. I had been dealing with shots and blood tests and sonograms and depression every single day and night for over two years.

We had eaten brunch altogether, my sister and her husband and kids had arrived as well, my father seemed unusually quiet. I felt something was wrong; all those times my mom had complained I was “over-sensitive” I was just good at picking up vibrations. My mother looked concerned. Finally, my dad admitted he wasn’t feeling well but refused to go to the doctor. He did not fall over with stabbing pains, he felt bad, his chest hurt but his skin color was not right, it was almost gray and that upset me the most.

We had always had a special bond and he wasn’t listening to my mother or anyone else. I knew, in my heart, in my gut, that something was very wrong. He said that he would drive to the hospital and my mother agreed but there was no way that was going to happen. He refused an ambulance. Finally, I was so upset that I burst into tears and begged, I begged him to let me drive him and my mom to the Emergency Room in Danbury. I sobbed, “Daddy, do it for me” and he said okay.

When we arrived his blood , an EKG administered and a very superior and obnoxious young resident came in and in clipped tones told him, “You are a very, very sick man.” My father was in complete denial and refused to believe him. Apparently he had suffered a major heart attack and was admitted to the hospital. We stayed until we were literally thrown out of the hospital and heard an announcement that my car was just about to be towed. We drove back to their condo not knowing what to do. I remember my mother saying “you saved his life.”

Life isn’t about what happens to YOU, not always, it’s about how you handle what happens when situations arise. It was very late, Sunday night. My husband had to go back to work in Massachusetts, my son was nine months old and we had never been separated. There was no offer from my sister and her husband and I knew my mother could not handle this alone. We had a family history of that. In my heart, I knew what needed to happen. It turned out that my in-laws took my son back to their house, my husband went back to our house and I stayed with my mother to help with my dad. At the time there seemed like there was no other choice. The next morning we found out that he had 90 percent blockage in five arteries. He was indeed, a very sick man.

They moved him to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and in a few days he had open heart surgery. I visited with my dad and had to say good-bye before they wheeled him to surgery and it’s probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. I cried, I couldn’t stop myself and my father knew me too well, a tear slid down his cheek as well. My dad and I are so alike. My mom and I waited the entire day in the hospital, over six or seven hours, pacing the halls, waiting for his doctor to tell us the news. I couldn’t eat a bite of food all day. Seven hours later the surgeon came out and the news was great, he had gotten through the surgery and we could see him the next day. Imagine my shock, when the next day in ICU he was sitting up, shaved and wearing his glasses!

I never thought I could leave my son, my beloved first-born but sometimes, deep inside you, you know the right thing to do. I have never been sorry that I made that decision. My father lived through the operation and I remember he came home on July 4th, Independence Day.

That night I drove home in the dark, yelled “Hi “to my dear husband, dashed up the stairs and took my sleeping baby, now home, in my arms. I stood there, rocking him back and forth for a very long time.

Women experience different symptoms from men: check out this wonderful website: http://www.myheartsisters.org by Carolyn Thomas

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Never, Ever Do This

Lioness and cub (D2A_4116)

Image by swh via Flickr

NEVER doubt your gut feelings. If you think something is wrong, it is wrong. My gut instincts are usually sound and solid and I pay careful attention to them. Once, many years ago when I was much younger I decided I was being too critical or too “in-like” so I gave a second chance to a man who lied to me. I loathe lying yet somehow he managed to sweet-talk me into a very credible excuse. WRONG. That was a big mistake and I should have known better. Listen to your gut instincts and follow them and don’t question yourself or let your emotions get in the way. Pretend you are a lioness protecting your cubs. Follow your gut instincts. Always.

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A Heart Broken

broken vase

Image by Leonard John Matthews via Flickr

I remember the first taste of flirtation, just a whiff, like the softness of a pink rose petal; it was enough to intoxicate me. A feeling that went straight from my head to my toes, a fluttering. Eyelashes blinked at a slower pace, my deep, green eyes  warm, sexy and coy, sending messages. It was the attraction that comes from nowhere and heads straight across an apartment, from the front door to the living room, in two seconds.  I was wearing a white cabled sweater, my hair was long, brown, full and curly like gentle ripples in a slow river.

I miss those days of how just thinking about someone could make a flush run deep in my cheeks, and I would smile openly in the air, not caring what other people thought. My feelings became so intense that I ended up getting jealous of my own fantasies. He had eyes of brown velvet, there was no denying the attraction that happened at first sight. No getting away from it either, the pull of a fierce rip tide tugging at my heart and body.

This kind of physical attraction was new to me and it frightened me as well as consumed me. I was 18, home from college and met him at a party. Only later did I find out he was married with a wife back in Alabama about to give birth to their second child. I stopped cold and the sensuous side of me changed to brittle cement that settled in and stayed.

I did not want to become that person that snuck away to a hotel, I was young but not stupid.  Back in my dorm room I wrote his first name down in sketchbooks, a soft blush of pencil,  angry strokes of red and black. I had fallen in love with someone who was not available; I felt betrayed, angry and unhappy with the world, with him.

It was nothing and everything. It was waking up a side of me I had not yet known. Attraction, the physical energy with a stranger. His eyes locked on mine and we did not leave each others’ side after that. It was a party yet no one existed except the two of us. He was my first love, my first introduction to sensuality and feeling wanted. It did not have a fairy tale ending but it gave me an education, it was a glimpse into the future from a very brief, innocent, romance, one that I could not forget.

If I Could Go Back in Time

Buttons in a bowl

There’s an internal button that was sewn into my soul when I was a baby, maybe even before I was born. It was a FEAR button which made me very unsure of myself when I was young. I took the easy way out when I could. I didn’t believe in myself and did not have any self-confidence. I needed to grow into that and embrace it. There was a job I interviewed for when I was 22, it was for a Production Assistant. It scared me, to be out and about in NYC getting props. I chose the safer route, the one I knew and I wish I hadn’t. Had I failed more, I would have had more experience but I played it safe. I would change that FEAR button and replace it with TRY.

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Pop Cop: Celebrity Apprentice

I’ve sunk to a new low, although I seem to say that quite a bit. Watched a rerun of The Celebrity Apprentice tonight, a show that we watched when the children were little and loved it, we all used to watch as a family. If someone wasn’t able to be home to see it live we would tape it and then watch it the next day together. Family time. The only thing that was missing was a big bowl of popcorn.

Tonight, however, I have bronchitis, feel miserable and was in bed. Nothing I wanted to watch on TV, my “shows” Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice were repeats last night apparently because of some (stupid) basketball game. The clicker on my TV found its way to a repeat performance of the first Celebrity Apprentice of the season. Famous women vs famous men. It set women’s rights back about 50 years.

I could say that I was watching the show for a Sociology Project but then I would be lying. I would, however, not be lying to say that watching the men and women work and fight together should have been a Sociology 101 course. It was sad. Sad and true. The men when confronted with who was to leave had no problem looking at each other in the face, calling a name and there were no hard feelings. The women? They were pathetic and it was not their fault. It is how women are socialized in this world. No woman could name another woman who should leave, it was too hard, they all worked together, they were a team. What they really were was a pathetic mess and it was hard to watch. Finally, one brave woman, meekly suggested a name after Donald Trump cursed his way to finally get an answer. Then, the women suddenly became more empowered with the exception of Cyndi Lauper who kept shaking her poufy and disheveled blonde hair head from side to side, unable to utter a word.

Buck up women!  There is no time for this in business, in the corporate world. Men/boys will fight with each other and three seconds later they stand up and begin to play basketball together. Women/girls have hurt feelings and will start whispering and attacking the other girl behind her back and act all catty and upset. They don’t shake hands and continue to play together, they side with one girl and pretend the rest of the girls are invisible.

That’s no way to run the world. Show the men up with your independence and strength, dominate the world with your power. I know it’s only The Celebrity Apprentice but it gives us women a bad name. I know it’s not easy but please, for the sake of all women, man up!

This is Ridiculous

Nov. 2nd pm

I finally get this on a “real, working blog” and I’m scared to death. “I have writer’s block” I say to myself but even I know that is utter and total bullshit. It’s fear. I’m not sure of what though. It is hard for me to even write now, my stomach is clenched but I am trying not to care. Trying to push past it all and keep writing. It doesn’t take Freud to understand that this is no coincidence. Vulnerability? Ridicule? AH, or NO response. Hmm, writing for myself was effortless, I guess i should only concentrate on that. AND, it is a blog, my blog to talk or kvetch or gossip or share anything I want. I will not give up. But I may throw up.

I told my daughter, who is a vegetarian, that I will no longer eat Jello…I never knew what went IN to Jello and now that I know, it’s off my list. It’s interesting that I haven’t eaten meat for about a week and i don’t miss it (yet.) So I am not claiming one thing or another just yet but eating good, healthy, food.  Tonight (I so love food) I had lentil soup, some veggie pizza (ok, yes there was cheese but I’m NOT a vegan to be at all. Had a craving for dried apricots( at least it’s not for 2 bowls of ice cream with caramel and chocolate sauce, whipped cream and almonds) instead I had grapes and tasteless raspberries and blackberries. Why did I go into that much detail about my fantasy dessert? Definitely not a wise thing to do…yum, I love food, most all food (except for fish) and I’m trying to lose some weight. I know, Oprah said it’s a “lifestyle change” and as much as I love and adore Oprah, that Texas fair would not be on Bob Green’s list (not that we trust HIM anymore ). Fried butter? Really? UGH, i thought until Oprah described it like a delicate roll with butter. Oh dear Lord, that does sound like heaven. I love the fact that both Gayle and Oprah would not budge with their dessert winners!  I’m with Oprah on this one, lemon cake!  As a Libra that is my life. I can’t decide between one or two things, I buy them both or not at all. It’s not easy being a sensitive Libra but we really are nice people. Decision making? Not so good!

Random thought….Brothers & Sisters TV show

Who would you like to be if you were part of the WALKER family. At the moment, I would say Sarah and we all know why. Yes. Luke. Magnificent. I feel like a teenager as my friend and I giggle about how handsome he is. My teenagers are mortified that I have a “crush.” I wouldn’t call it a crush as much as an admiration of incredible beauty. Yes, this man is beautiful. Think of it like a picture you see at the museum….ok, i don’t buy it either. Sigh.

Laurie’s Down on her Luck aka Hibernation

Day one of my blog. I’m a 53 year old married woman and mom, I have two teenagers in High School and an almost 8 year old dog, named Callie. Yesterday, which should be the beginning of my woeful journey actually is not. Yesterday was just another installment of Laurie’s Down on her Luck. That started a long time ago. Probably since the age of 50 when menopause struck. Yes, Struck. It didn’t start or end, it interrupted the life as I had known it. Hot flashes, hysteria, sweats, irritability, tears? NO problem. Thanks to the almighty Prozac which I have been on for 5 years for serious worrying problems. Is it safe to call it the OCD of worrying? That was me. Prozac helped me with a quite easy journey into menopause and out. I had no complaints. I also had no clue what would start after that.

A seemingly easy menopause, not care free but not suffering like many of my friends. However, it attacked my body ferociously, like the way I attack Funfetti cupcakes with vanilla frosting. You understand.

Men-o-pause (and who came up with THAT name) kick-started a revolution on my body or perhaps more accurately To my body that is still not well. I write to you after a year and a half (and still going) with various illnesses, ailments and psychological trauma.

I was a fairly common place looking female, curly brown hair, funky pink glasses, green eyes ( my best feature). 5’4 inches, still looked good in a pair of jeans, v-neck long cotton Tee and reliable sneakers or clogs (if I wanted to dress up.) Not a hippie but certainly no fashion plate either.
My family and I live in this tony little town up on a hill where we half belong and half don’t. I am not a super mom, I don’t have a nanny, I stayed home with my kids, we lived on one salary, and had a tiny house in a sweet section of our neighborhood. The children played in the streets together, bicycles (with helmets), scooters, Razors (who didn’t buy their kid a stupid Razor?). Mayberry RFD meets The Cleavers. You get it.

When mansion moms came to visit they always described our house as “cozy”, “sweet” and “so great that you have neighbors right next to you on both sides!!!!” All of us in the neighborhood knew we were in the poor section of town but we didn’t really care. Much.
My son was in second grade when he brought home a “friend” from school. My son had just gotten new, Ikea blue furniture and he was thrilled. His so called bastard “friend” had taken one look at my son’s modest room and said to him: “wow, I knew your house was gonna be bad but I didn’t imagine anything THIS bad.” My son’s upset face lingers in my mind, yes, I do hold a grudge and I will forever hate this boy.
I truly do still hate this brat and I regret not calling his mother, but rumor had it she was a major bitch, one that I didn’t want to tangle with. I shouldn’t have listened.I should have called, my mistake entirely. That was then. This is now. I still hate him and i hate her and any living relatives that they may have.

I digress.

After going through menopause and yes, I did buy Christiane Northrups The Meaning of Menopause (what meaning?) it did very little for me and for my sister. We referred to the book as “The Bible” sharing it amongst the two of us (I paid)

The illnesses that followed:

During a routine check-up my internist (The Ice Princess) found that my thyroid level was underactive. YAHOO, I screamed, FABULOUS, I chortled. I finally inherited the thyroid disease that both my sister and mom had. I had been hoping for this for years. Does the term “be careful what you wish for” sound familiar? I had imagined myself eating DD jelly doughnuts (get that I have a sweet tooth?), mayo packed tuna (only white, never light) sandwiches with chips or fries on the side, sipping a vanilla-chocolate-strawberry (pick one or all) milkshake while shedding pounds. Never happened.

To make a long story short, my thyroid did not make me lose ANY weight but made me feel achy, tired, brain-fogged and wretched for months.
My “Ice Princess Dr.” left me weeping in the examining room while she brusquely left the room saying and I quote” There’s nothing left for me to do, nothing is wrong.” (I really DO NEED to find a new internist). She referred me to an angry looking Rheumatologist “in the group” who took one look at me and said “did anyone ever tell you, you had scoliosis? WHAT? It had been discovered that I didn’t have just any ordinary thyroid disease but one called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an auto- immune disease. The Rheumatologist, said I was fine, didn’t have arthritis and “oh by the way did you know that once you have an auto-immune disease you leave yourself WIDE open to getting other auto-immune illnesses? Gee thanks, troll, I hadn’t known that. Those were her loving farewell words. continue tomorrow!!!

Day 2 Halloween aka Boo (Hoo) Day
To wrap up the past, which is still by and large, the present, here’s what happens next: Ice Princess was revisited once or twice more, NOTHING “she can do…blah blah blah” eventually found a lovely Rheumatologist at another medical center. She was lovely and I referred to her always as “the lovely .Dr..Jane Doe”. She diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia (FIBRO what?) after pressing on all my pressure points and me screaming my head off. She said: ” i believe you have been misdiagnosed.” I am sure you have Fibromyalgia. YEAH, a diagnosis!!!! That was a great find, only bad part: NO CURE. “But we manage it” she said and I will make you much better. I believed, oh yes, I did believe.
And she did try, she added Cymbalta and this or that, we played chem warfare, her not wanting to call my shrink, my shrink, certainly, not wanting to stoop so low as to call Her. Great. For months I believed, but the pain, fatigue in all my muscles and joints, in every inch of my chubby body still HURT. I was a 95 year old living in practically a 95 year old’s body. I was weak, I was tired, I felt like I had the flu, every day, every hour…..this went on for months. Went back to Dr. Lovely and she said “this is all I can do, I can do nothing more.” Time to (as my first infertility Dr. called it,” to bring in the big guns.”

I had heard about Dr. GS from my sister, her friend Elizabeth and my sister’s husband’s friend too. To me, it sounded like he was the wizard of Oz. Really. I was actually intimidated to meet him and while his bedside manner was something to be desired (or I just didn’t like to hear the truth) he said that Fibromyalgia was a lazy diagnosis. (This being a little awkward since Dr. Lovely had trained under the new Dr. Guru.) His recommendation: treat the underlying disease which is the Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Treat the auto immune disease by taking: Plaquannel, Methotrexate (made me sick as a dog) eliminating some of my meds, adding even more. It was hard to know WHAT I was feeling anymore but he made me chart my course, every day..on a scale of 1-10, what was I? ! Being in “deep shit” as my dear friend and honorable aunt called it, 10 being: energetic tob e doing the macarena on a cruise ship for hours. OK, my metaphors but you get the drift. Ha Ha, the drift, get it, cruise, drift, oh never mind I love to amuse MYSELF with my own jokes, something my husband and my kids DO NOT APPRECIATE. I don’t care. If I think something is funny, I will howl and they will not extinguish what funny bone laughter I still have left in my body. Spirit was high around this time thinking that Dr. G was, indeed, a genius.However, I still hold against him that he sent a letter to the Ice Princess and every Dr. I had ever known referring to me as a 52 year old OVERWEIGHT female. OK, I know it was true but it sounded horrid. I mean really. My cholesterol was also sky high and he said no insurance company would ever cover me in this unhealthy state. Ouch. I had to have a heart check up (enter The Cardiologist) and started on a cholesterol lowering pill. Add ANOTHER Pill why don’t you? Been there, done that. Dr. Guru also suggested, several tlmes,) that I start on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) that , it just so happens, his “significant other” believed in it and was an expert on it and she was a gynecologist, specializing in It. I will not go, I will not see, I will not put all those chemicals ln me.” I chanted this every chance I could. After 3 more months of feeling crappy, I did go in, I did see her, I did, I did, but I will not let her talk me into it. “NOTHING SHORT OF A MIRACLE WILL GET ME TO TRY THIS” I BOASTED. But I went in anyway, asking G-d and my deceased father (who I miss so much) for guidance and insight. The HRT Dr. walked in, i sat in THE Defiant pose, ready to challenge every single thing she was going to suggest–I was prepared, in advance. Five minutes of formal talk, me on guard, giving her the evil stare, she stops for a minute. “Where did you grow up” she asked. I told her. Her face freezes over, (like it had been botoxed to look like a toaster but I knew it hadn’t, it was just SO SUDDEN……she leans back in her Dr. chair (btw, NOT a good idea to take your shoes off during a consultation when your patients can see your icky stockings) and said, “do you have an older sister? Huh? WHAT?? Now it was my turn to freeze and I said cautiously……”yes….why?” At which point she leans forward and her voice, which had been a monotone monologue turns into one of great childhood delight and absolute exuberant… “I’m Susie Shapiro (not her real name) and I grew up with you, I was great friends with your sister” and so she was. This was a teenager I remember being in our childhood apartment, this was someone I KNEW. My prayer, my only condition of considering HRT had been answered. Thank you Dad, Thank you G-d. Squirt me up!!! And it was then that I started HRT because I believe in things happening for a reason, that there are NO coincidences. I said nothing short of a miracle would get me to take HRT. Asked and answered. I began the next day.

November 1, 2009
IT’S MOMMY’S CHEESE SAUCE
My teenagers do not remember that I was the one who made their very own home-made (ok Kraft slices) cheese sauce. They called it Daddy’s cheese sauce the other day. He copied me. They think it was him and they don’t “remember” me making it. This is what I don’t want:
the kids to only remember me being sick, tired, broken bones, fibromyalgia, hashimotos….you get the drift. I made sure to tell them that I had created the delish dish but even my husband doesn’t remember MY invention. This stinks. To appease me, my husband said “ok, I’ll put on your gravestone “She created the cheese sauce.” I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. I am continuing to try and breathe deeply and have gone from hibernation in status to “getting centered.” For dinner I had brown rice, vegies and a hard boiled egg, usually served with Tamari sauce but we only had soy. I’m still on my back and go only to the bathroom. I know that this is the answer, that THIS, is what Oprah has been talking about. You get knocked on the head once, you should pay attention. I’ve been knocked down, run over, hemoraged and am in traction…..but I FINALLY know, I need to change my eating habits and other slovenly ways. Am only eating “clean foods” now and trying to drink water. I will never like that but at least I am doing it. “You are what you eat?” for once…good. Haven’t looked at the Halloween candy,
although my daughter put my very favorite (yum, Whoppers)in my bed stand table. I plan to throw it away, on the other hand, I could leave it awhile and see what happens.

I can’t DO moderation,(yeah, yeah Bob Green, I know, I know) I’m an all or nothing kind of gal. Oh, and what’s up with the “Good Life” products? I’ve been buying them faithfully and all of a sudden I hear that they are NOT all that healthy? HOW ARE WE, THE PEOPLE, SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE IN ANYTHING OR KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE IN? I rest my case –I really would have been a great lawyer.

So, back to me trying to be Zen-like or just a little not me-like:
Still not talking on the phone which is surprisingly calm and lovely. Mom came to visit today and my sister is coming on Wednesday, that’s it for visitors. Waited till at night to write in this, but at least I did do it.
Haven’t taken any daily medications for today but it’s ok, I can miss a day. My stomach feels a little funny, don’t know if it’s just rocking and rolling from the excitement of healthy food or if it’s begging me for a PB & J sandwich with a glass of milk. Not yet. I hobbled to the shower this morning and it felt good to stand (?) under the hot water. Can’t exercise but can’t say I am not thrilled with that. Being able to WALK without pain will be my goal. To sleep a good night’s sleep (I hate these extra hour/fewer hour days) never could quite get the concept of “losing or gaining” an hour. But that’s just me. Anyone else unclear on the concept? Don’t be ashamed we should stand together with great pride!

November 2, 2009
Torn, (ligament) bruised. Broken (spirit) maybe I’ve turned a corner, or at least turned to the side. Centering Myself. Getting rid of the old
the past, the bad, unhealthy habits, food, no exercise, too much worry. Replace Fear with Faith. (thanks R.C.) A new beginning?
I love not talking on the phone or emailing just to email. Still love tv and movies, not gonna lie. Food is no longer the main focus of my world. I do
believe that G-D has been telling me all these thighs(HA Freudian slip) things for almost 2 years. I’m starting to get it. Only starting but it’s better than nothing. I’m even going to ask my husband for help with this computer stuff. I HATE asking for help, getting embarrassed and feeling foolish but I have to do it. I’m taking a small leap (ok, pinkie toe step–pinkie toe, the only didget that is still normal, and putting myself out there. I feel nauseous. I decide not to care. Gulp. Over to my husband…..